Intarsia Knitting and the Perils of Duplicate Stitching

As promised a couple of posts ago, I’m giving intarsia a try again. Let me say before I say anything else, I’m a perfectionist, and part of the reason I haven’t done too much work with this technique is I cannot get it to my high standards. I’m told I’m too picky, but I have a hard time letting go of it.

Anyway, it was suggested to me I use duplicate stitch for the sections in the center of the flower, and I learned a few things there. First, duplicate stitch sometimes works better if the yarn you’re stitching with is slightly thicker than the yarn in the knit piece.

This was my first attempt with this particular pattern, and you can see what the white sections in the center, which were duplicate stitched, look like. A little wimpy. The white section that looks best is the one on the bottom right hand side, which was actually knit in.

Rose II

However, look at the dark red sections. They look much better, with none of the main color peeking through. All of the yarn in the piece is worsted weight, but that dark red yarn is just a little bit thicker than the medium red (main color of the rose). It stitched up so much nicer!

By the way, the small section of dark red in the upper left corner of the rose was also knit in.

The leaves were also knit in, intarsia style. Overall, the intarsia part of worked! Success there! But I was very unhappy with the white duplicate stitching, so I started the entire project all over again, and this time I decided to knit in the white sections and only duplicate stitch the darker red color.

(I later thought if I felted the piece it might be a lot more forgiving. No such luck, even though I accidentally really felted it. I won’t show you those disastrous results, but I ended up with an over-felted mess, and the duplicate stitching still looked bad.)

So here’s rose number 2. The yarn is the same weight, but a different brand:

Rose V

All of the white sections were knit in, and while it’s far from perfect, it’s a much better result than the duplicate stitching in the first rose. That’s not to say I couldn’t have somehow gotten better results with duplicate stitching. I certainly have with other projects (see below).

I knit in a couple of the dark red sections, and duplicate stitched the rest. The third picture here is marked to show you which sections of the dark red were knit in and which were stitched (as I mentioned before, all of the white sections were knitted).

I also learned it can be a challenge to go back and accurately duplicate stitch the pattern into the main knitted section. Trust me, those blocks of the dark red do not exactly follow the pattern as written.

Looking at the picture, it’s not really easy to tell the difference between the knitted sections of the dark red and the stitched sections, and in “real life” it’s only a little easier, but the knitted sections do look better. Again, while all the yarn was worsted weight, the dark red was just slightly heavier.

Of course the sections that weren’t knit in were, for the most part, smaller, and probably were best left to the duplicate stitching, accurate or not. That small section of white between the two circle areas is a clear example why — it’s a little sloppy. Frankly, it doesn’t look much better than the duplicate stitch white sections from the other piece.

Rose V knit in

While I didn’t felt this piece, I did wet-block it, something I’d strongly suggest for any intarsia project.

Just to give you an idea of my ability with duplicate stitching, here’s another project I did in which the entire design is duplicate stitched. So I do know what I’m doing there:

green rose sliipers

Anyway, quite frankly, I took on the challenge but I believe I’m through with intarsia for now. Having said that, no doubt I’ll find a must-have project with that technique in the next six months. But I hope not.

By the way, the beautiful rose pattern I used here (top) came from Sasha Kagan’s Country Inspiration book, published in February 2000 by Taunton Press. It’s likely now out of print, but perhaps you could find it through Amazon, or your local library might have a copy. You can see other patterns available in the book by looking it up on


2 thoughts on “Intarsia Knitting and the Perils of Duplicate Stitching”

  1. Well I learned a lot reading your post. I have Sasha Kagan’s book. It has been an inspiration for many years but I have never used any of the patterns. Love your slippers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve kept that book because the patterns are so beautiful, but this is the first project I’ve attempted. I’m glad my post was helpful! The slippers are my own design. 🙂


I'd love to hear from you!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s